Video game developer Bioware recently blazed a trail for inclusion with the introduction of transgender character Krem in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
And the game's lead writer has revealed that despite some initial hesitation, players seem eager to embrace Krem -- and that sales of Dragon Age: Inquisition are doing just fine.
"I think there was a lot of apprehension about what the reaction [to Krem] in the game community would be," lead writer David Gaider told game commentator Andy Borkowski.
Gaider said developers tend to make decisions based on assumptions about their audience -- and there was some hesitation about introducing a trans character, propelled by speculation that gaming audiences would resist such a character.
But Bioware had included LGBT storylines in previous games, such as Jade Empire and Mass Effect, and the warm reception to those characters made the developer bolder, Gaider explained.
In a previous Dragon Age game, Bioware had created a character named Serendipity, who could be interpreted as a drag queen, a woman, or a trans person. She works at a brothel, serves as a punch line, and isn't a particularly deep character. Upon reflection, Gaider said that Serendipity could have been written better.
"We fucked up with Serendipity," he said. "If the opportunity presents itself, we can think about what we're saying with a transgender character."
It was during the development of Dragon Age: Inquisition that a writer asked about revealing that Krem, intially known as a cisgender [nontrans] male mercenary, was indeed a transgender man. That prompted a lengthy conversation about how the Qunari, another race in the game, viewed gender. Clearly, adding this aspect enriched the game play experience, and so Gaider gave the idea a thumbs-up.
"Yeah, go for it," he recalled saying, adding, "See if you can find somebody in the transgender community you can run it by."
Now that the game has met with a warm reception, Gaider said, he hopes to hire a transgender performer for the next character like Krem. And there definitely will be more LGBT characters in the game, which already includes options for users to have characters embark on a same-sex romance.
"It hasn't affected our sales insofar as we can tell," Gaider said. "The idea of how commercial a consideration it is goes out the window and we can focus on doing the right thing."